God of Mercy


"I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured no end of contempt. We have endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud." - Psalm 123
"But God, being rich in mercy" - Ephesians 2:4

More than 20 years ago some researchers decided to find out if seminarians really were Good Samaritans. In order to conduct their experiment, they enlisted 40 volunteers from a major American seminary. They divided the volunteers into two groups of 20 each and told them that they were conducting research into careers in the church. Both groups were asked to go individually to another building and make a tape recording on an assigned topic. One group was given the topic of career concerns while the other group was asked to talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan.

That was all the students were told. Unknown to them, the researchers they hired had planned a little surprise. They had hired an actor who stood on the sidewalk which led to the building where the seminarians were to give their impromptu talks. As each student walked along, the actor would suddenly slump to the ground with great moans and groans, giving the appearance of having suffered a sudden heart attack. The real purpose of the experiment was to see how many of the students would stop and help the “victim” and how many would simply hurry on their way.

You might be surprised to hear that over half the students walked right on by the “victim.” According to the researchers, “some, who were planning their dissertation on the Good Samaritan, literally stepped over the slumped body as they hurried along.” (William McRae, Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, p. 54)

What can we conclude from a story like that? Two things, I think. First, that there is a big difference between talking about the Good Samaritan and actually being one. Second, that there is not much difference between the average seminarian and the average church member.

What makes some people stop while others just keep on walking? There are many answers to that question, but here is one you perhaps haven’t considered. The people who stop have a certain spiritual gift which actually causes them to stop and help someone in need. It is the spiritual gift of showing mercy.

Showing mercy is not just a command of Scripture; it is also a spiritual gift. Some people have it and some people don’t. The people who have it will stop every time. You can count on it.

Lord Jesus, You are loving and Your mercy endures forever. Even though our own love is often so shallow, when we intercede for your mercy on the lives you bring across our path, You will answer. Thank You so much! Amen.
May 2 2019